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Does Corporal Punishment Causes Aggressive Behavior on Children?

children who are subjected to such punishments have a greater risk of having mental health problems as adults/ Photo By iko via Shutterstock

 

Children are sometimes inclined to act undisciplined and ill-mannered since they are still immature and young. While most of their parents result to corporal punishment to discipline their children because they believe that it would be effective on instilling the lessons that they want to teach to them, only to find out later that this kind of discipline has repercussions that might have a long-term effect on their young minds.

Physical punishment has been a problem in different generations. It involves physical force with the intention of causing the child to experience bodily pain or discomfort so as to correct or punish the child’s behavior. Many researchers and child psychiatrists are trying to end this kind of discipline on the child since they know that it has an effect on the cognitive process of the children when they get older.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that children who are subjected to such punishments have a greater risk of having mental health problems as adults. Many studies have shown that physical punishment including spanking, hitting, and other means of causing pain can lead to increased aggression, anti-social behavior, physical injury, and mental health problems for both children and adult.

Discipline or abuse?

Most parents resort to spanking their child when they commit something bad or unacceptable. However, spanking is just a euphemism for hitting since no one is permitted to hit anyone even if they are related and it is considered as domestic violence according to the law of most countries. As mentioned above, many child psychiatrists and researchers are concerned about the effects of spanking on children.

A recent article published by The Guardian mentioned that the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that children who experienced physical punishment have a higher risk to have an aggressive behavior and mental health problems as they mature. Moreover, they also added that verbal punishments such as yelling and shaming their children should be also avoided.

Researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics believe that corporal punishment also has an effect on the cognitive and emotional health of the children. Another study from African schools found out that physical punishment may have a long-term detrimental effect on children’s verbal intelligence and their executive functioning ability.

corporal punishment also has an effect on the cognitive and emotional health of the children/ Photo By Yuganov Konstantin via Shutterstock

 

Physical punishment is not always the answer

As the concerned parents and psychiatrists teamed up in promoting harmless punishment on children, data from countries that banned corporal punishment proved that avoiding harmful discipline could have a positive effect on the well-being of the child. Science Daily shared a study from McGill University showed that children who don’t experience physical discipline from their parents are less likely to display aggressive behavior towards their peers and other people around them.

Physical punishment models aggression for children. According to Lynn Namka, EdD, physical punishment engenders more aggression in the child, even if it initially appears to stop the behavior. The child won’t easily grasp the concept of physical punishment as an act of discipline, but they will regard it as a punishment and it would leave them a scar both mentally and physically.

Parents could always go and find another way how they could teach their children life lessons. According to Smart Parenting, positive discipline could help the child a lot when it comes to their academic performance since it triggers motivation and confidence. It could also teach the child of having two-way communication that will give the child their own voice to speak out their mind and at the same time, they will also be heard by the adults around them.

The Risks

Physical punishment can work momentarily to stop problematic behavior because children are afraid of being hit, but it doesn’t work in the long term and can make children become more aggressive in the long run. The negative effects of physical punishment may not become apparent for some time and there are indirect changes on how the child thinks about things and situations.

Adolescents who receive physical punishment are three times more likely to grow up to abuse their own children. Spanking teaches children that it’s okay to hurt people and this can lead them to believe that the problem would be solved by hitting someone. These children may continue this way of thinking into adulthood, causing them to hit their spouse or children.

However, parents and adults should remember that discipline should serve as a guide for children’s moral, emotional, and physical development, which enables the child to take responsibility for themselves when they are older. It should teach the child the boundaries of what is acceptable and not acceptable rather than teaching them that inflicting pain would be a better form of discipline. If the parent accidentally hits his or her child, he or she should explain it to him or her very gently the reasons behind it to prevent the child from developing poor self-esteem that could affect his or her social behavior.

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